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Hotel Highlights

  • It’s a beautiful area, with lots to do nearby
  • This hotel is a cosy, relaxing retreat
  • A stay here is a great-value choice

Overview

An impeccably appointed, well-kept country inn near Tisbury in Wiltshire, The Beckford Arms hotel is revitalized and better than ever after a fire temporarily shut it down in 2010. Weary country walkers will sink gratefully into soft overstuffed sofas beside open fireplaces after a hearty English meal accompanied by excellent local ales and bitters. The eight rooms look and feel modern, but a closer look shows a dedication to traditional materials such as stone and wood, with accents like woven wool blankets, fresh-cut wild flowers and handmade natural toiletries.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Beckford Arms with us:

Home-made Beckford crumpets and a pot of tea on arrival

Facilities

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The Beckford Arms Hotel - Wiltshire - United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

Eight rooms.

Check–out

11am. Check-in from 3pm (flexible, depending on availability).

Rates

Double rooms from $123.71 (£79), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include a full English or Continental breakfast.

Also

Book a massage or personal training session with the hotel’s in-house therapist Angela Parsons – great value at £30–£45 for treatments lasting an hour or longer.

At the hotel

Gardens, private dining room, petanque piste, library including DVDs, and free WiFi. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD player, iPod dock and the hotel’s home-made Bramley toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Room 1, nestled into the corner of the building above the sitting room, is one of the larger rooms, with both bath and shower. Room 5 is a cosy suntrap, with elegant mirrored bedside tables and a small stone fireplace. Note to big packers: the Beckford's rooms don't have wardrobes, just wall pegs and hangers.

Packing tips

Walking attire; a classic Agatha Christie for fireside reading; bed socks and big knits for snuggling up on the sofa; a dog.

Also

If you want your dog to join you, book Room 6.

Children

Little Smiths are more than welcome, with cribs provided free for babies, extra beds £25 a night (for under-12s, otherwise £60 a night),, and babysitting with a local nanny available (book two days in advance). The restaurant has a menu tailored to tots.

Read more

Pet‐friendly

Dogs are allowed, in Room 6 only; please request this room when booking. For £10 a night, you get a bed for Fido, plus a bowl and biscuits.

Food & Drink

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The Beckford Arms Hotel - Wiltshire - United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

Pravin Nayar has returned to the Beckford with a menu of old favourites. Making headlines in its homemade fare is the local produce, pork pies and zingy piccalilli, the house burger, Brixham fish 'n' chips, and suckling pig on the open fire. Fans of all-day brunching can pounce on eggs Benedict, waffles and Bloody Marys, and those feeling like a family-style Sunday roast can order a chicken to carve at the table. Breakfast is served in the conservatory; however, if you're staying in the Lodges you can ask for a bag of breakfast goodies to be delivered to your door.

Hotel Bar

Loyal locals head here for the ales and bitters, the cosy country pub atmosphere and the relaxed setting – wooden beams, parquet flooring and roaring fire. There is a large oval table by the bay window, perfect for a group of friends, and every Sunday, the bar hosts a cinema night (check the blackboard by the fire to see what’s showing). Look out for the collection of antique silver teapots.

Last orders

Breakfast is served in the conservatory from 8am to 10am (though late-risers can request a brunch-type timing), lunch is 12–3pm, and dinner is dished up between 6pm and 9pm.

Room service

No room service, but you can plunder in-room nibbles such as pork pies and crisps from the bar.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Blend in with the locals by sporting shooting-chic: tweed, wools and russet hues, accessorised with Hunter wellies.

Top table

Choose according to your mood; tables in the pub make for a sociable and relaxed setting, the sitting room is the place for a DVD-dinner, and the conservatory is bright and airy, with its pale wood panelling, gilt-framed mirrors and garden views.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Head to the 14th-century Old Wardour Castle in the valley, a 10-minute drive or 35-minute walk from the hotel (www.english-heritage.org.uk). The castle has graced many a movie and is the perfect spot for a picnic – ask the hotel to make you one before you set off. Another great spot to hunker down with a hamper is the Fonthill Estate, a five-minute walk away (+44 (0)1747 820 246; www.fonthill.co.uk). If you have a car, Stonehenge is a 20-minute drive away, Bath is a 30-minute drive, and (for the little uns) Longleat’s Safari Park is just 20 minutes away (www.longleat.co.uk). The hotel has a list of all the best walks nearby, and will lend intrepid guests an ordnance survey map. They can also recommend where to go for deer stalking and shooting (whether simulated or real), fly fishing, horse racing or golf. Remember to nab a copy of the Blackmore Vale magazine as soon as you arrive at the Beckford Arms – published on a Friday, it lists all the local hotspots and events (www.thisisdorset.co.uk).

Local restaurants

Dine at The Bath Arms, a boutique hotel with the Mr & Mrs Smith stamp of approval and a popular restaurant, tricked out with scarlet drapes and chandeliers (+44 (0)1985 844 308). The Compasses Inn is a 14th-century freehouse just a 10-minute drive from the hotel, in Lower Chicksgrove (+44 (0)1722 714 318; www.thecompassesinn.com). The main bar has 11 tables, and there is a small dining room used for private parties. Expect plenty of sturdy beams, wood galore and fresh, seasonal dishes, such as pigeon and puy lentil salad with quail eggs, and wild mushroom, chestnut, butter bean and fennel casserole. At the King John Inn (+44 (0)1725 516207; www.kingjohninn.co.uk) in nearby Tollard Royal, local produce is brought to the fore in dishes such as Pythouse lamb breast and Portland crab on toast. Near Shaftesbury, the Fontmell (+44 (0)1747 811441; www.thefontmell.com) serves traditional fare such as steak and claret pudding and roasted saddle of venison.

Local cafés

Wander around the walled Victorian Pythouse Kitchen Garden (+44 (0)1747 870 444; www.pythouse-farm.co.uk) and stop for lunch at the wonderful café on the verandah. The cream teas are worth piling on the pounds for, but if you’re feeling guilty, forego the five-minute drive for a half-hour walk back to the hotel. Turnbulls café and deli is in the centre of Shaftesbury, at 9 High Street (+44 (0)1747 858 575; www.turnbulls-deli.co.uk). Try their take on tapas – River Exe mussels in local cream and local cider sauce, mini Westcombe cheddar rarebit toasties, Mere trout bruschettas, paté and terrines, and local hams and pies. De-liz café and delicatessen in Tisbury is crammed with enough cakes, chutneys, cheeses and charcuterie to feed an army, and is just a 10-minute walk, or three-minute drive, from the hotel (+44 (0)1747 871 771; www.deliz.co.uk).

+ Enlarge
Tisbury’s walkers’ wonderland

The Beckford Arms

Fonthill Gifford, Tisbury, Tisbury, wiltshire SP3 6PX, United Kingdom

The Beckford Arms in Wiltshire is not far from Tisbury, to the west of Salisbury. Close to the north Dorset border, it’s a short hop off the A303.

Planes

Bournemouth and Bristol are the nearest airports, served by the likes of Ryanair (www.ryanair.com), Flybe (Bristol only, www.flybe.com) and EasyJet (www.easyjet.com). By car, the hotel is an hour from Bournemouth, nearer 80 minutes from Bristol.

Trains

Trains from London Waterloo to Tisbury take around one hour and 45 minutes (www.southwesttrains.co.uk). Tisbury station is a five-minute drive away.

Automobiles

The hotel is a short hop off the A303, and has free parking on site. If you’re arriving by public transport, you may want to hire some wheels, to help you explore the area’s attractions at your leisure. Salisbury is the nearest city, a 30-minute drive away. Tisbury is a 10-minute walk away, if you decide to leave your car at home.

Reviews

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The Beckford Arms Hotel - Wiltshire - United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Rosie Birkett , A lot on her plate

‘Whoa! William Beckford was a rum one!’ says Mr Smith, sprawling out on the soft Welsh wool blanket covering our bed – replete from the roast lunch we’ve just inhaled. Reading aloud from the book of bumf he’s found on our bedside table, he recounts how Beckford – from whom Wiltshire pub takes its name – was an obsessive aesthete who scandalised Victorian s…
Read more

The Beckford Arms

Anonymous review by Rosie Birkett, A lot on her plate

‘Whoa! William Beckford was a rum one!’ says Mr Smith, sprawling out on the soft Welsh wool blanket covering our bed – replete from the roast lunch we’ve just inhaled. Reading aloud from the book of bumf he’s found on our bedside table, he recounts how Beckford – from whom Wiltshire pub takes its name – was an obsessive aesthete who scandalised Victorian society with his ‘romantic’ relationship with a 10-year-old viscount.

Funded by his plantation-owner father’s fortune, Beckford (dubbed England’s wealthiest son by Lord Byron), took self-imposed exile, pursuing a life of art and architecture, penning a novel Vathek, and constructing the dizzyingly towering folly, Fonthill Abbey. The gothic revival country house is no more, but its crumbling remains are a short stroll away, and we agree to walk to it tomorrow, if for no other reason than this was where Beckford once ‘bathed in the rain with a sylph-like Albanian footman’, as revealed by a cursory Googling.

This boutique inn’s name, and its proximity to the stunning Fonthill Estate, is as far as its synonymy with Beckford’s archaic strangeness goes – the hotel is about as gothic as a Cath Kidston catalogue. An upscale country pub with rooms, the Beckford Arms is right on the edge of Fonthill Bishop’s acres of farmland, woods and gardens, which when we pass through it, is alive with posturing pheasants and frolicking lambs. The Wiltshire hotel is celebrated for its food, and when we arrive earlier that day the carpark is full with status wagons. This is proper down-from-London country and the place is crawling with glossy dogs and their even better-bred owners, all gathered for the feted Sunday lunch.

Promisingly rich smells of roasting meats fill the air, and despite arriving smack-bang during lunch service, we’re speedily checked in and shown to a table in the grand wooden-floored sitting room, amid rugs, lamps and muted paintwork. We’re seated behind a handsome French couple canoodling on the sofa over the Sunday papers, their toes warmed by the log fire; meanwhile ours are snuffled by the pub’s dog Elsa, who’s particularly taken with my tan-leather brogues. It would seem her masters’ good taste has rubbed off on her.

Swedish chef Chef Pravin Nayar has been with the property since it opened in 2010, and took over as head chef last July when it reopened following a devastating fire. His seasonal menus are bursting with carefully selected local produce, and the food is confidently cooked, refreshingly simple, and pleasingly devoid of the gussied-up flourishes often affected by pubs clawing at that ‘gastro’ prefix. I scan the menu for my usual alarm bells – but there are no ‘deconstructed’ pies or classics ‘with a twist’ here.

Fixated on a blow-out roast lunch, we find that the Swede doesn’t disappoint us, serving up two plates strewn with perfectly pink beef, golden dripping-roasted potatoes, deep, flavourful gravy and Yorkshire puds the size of a baby’s head. It’s a feast fit for a naughty Sunday in the country, and we wash it down with a soft Languedoc cabernet sauvignon. A shared British cheeseboard with the most delicious, crumbly salty-sweet homemade oatcakes propels us into a soporific food coma, and we retire to our chamber for the afternoon, nabbing the Sunday supps from beneath the noses of the now-dozing Frenchies.

Our room is simple and stylish – flooded with natural light, with a view over the garden and a vase of wild flowers on the window ledge. I brew a pot of afternoon tea and tuck into the bar of Dairy Milk. ‘How sweet,’ I say, ‘to give everyone a complimentary tea tray including fresh milk and a chocolate bar.’ Too many hotels have phased that out. To me, being able to make a replenishing cuppa after a food- and wine-induced nap is much nicer than a room-service delivery.

Added extras are partly what give the Beckford Arms a boutique edge. Touches abound like a cute little washbag, pitched perfectly at the well-heeled traveller, stuffed with things I usually forget – razor, toothbrush, cotton buds and possibly this cold-tootsied reviewer’s favourite: a hot water bottle clad in its own Aran knit cover. Even the inanimate objects here are well turned out. When owner Charlie Luxton tells me the fragrant Bramley toiletries are made by his wife, the founder of cult smellies company Cowshed, it all makes perfect sense.

In the candle-lit dining room that night, still full from lunch, I only manage a starter plate. But this is an appetiser that dreams are made of. A delicate, perfectly flaking piece of seared mackerel atop a salad of pickled cucumber, with dill mayonnaise speckled with capers and finely chopped shallots. Mr Smith tucks into a salad of Jerusalem artichokes with heirloom beets and some silky soft mozzarella from Laverstoke farm, marvelling at the incredible flavour of the local and seasonal ingredients.

Cosying up on our well-plumped bed upstairs, with the rest of our Chilean pinot noir, we are overcome by that special sleepy mood that only good food, wine and expertly executed comfort can bring. Tomorrow we’ll explore the old stomping ground of that rogue Beckford, but for now, we’ll enjoy the crisp Egyptian cotton sheets with our newfound bedfellow, the well-dressed hot water bottle. Something tells me we’ll be back at the Beckford Arms.

The Guestbook

Reviews of The Beckford Arms from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Pretty much everything, but to be offered a drink - without subsequent pressure to "drink up" - upon our arrival at midnight felt pretty exceptional.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The food and decor were lovely.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the lcation, the building, the ambience and the food.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The hotel has a good atmosphere and location.

Don’t expect

I found that the menu was limited as it stayed the same all week, with no specials for some variation. It was a little noisy due to the structure of the building but it is an old building with limited soundproofing.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The location was great.

Don’t expect

The staff could be nicer.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on The children loved it - hot chocolate in the bedroom was a winner!

We loved

The hotel has delightful staff, wonderful food (breakfast was particularly superb), a beautiful bedroom with a roll top bath, gorgeous in-room products, a laid back atmosphere and is dog friendly!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I enjoyed the warm welcome from the staff, warm fire in the sitting room and excellent food.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This is a lovely bar and restaurant with excellent choice of good ales and food. Staff are very friendly and welcoming and there's a great country-pub atmosphere. I liked the super bathroom with extra-large shower and good, comfortable bed.

Don’t expect

The room was rather small. A nice touch was that fresh milk was left outside the door in the morning but we had no way of knowing this and had our early morning tea without milk! Maybe let customers know it will be outside.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The Beckford Arms was a great place to stay. The staff were very welcoming, friendly and attentive. There was a great vibe in the pub and the room and food was excellent! We look forward to visiting again.

Don’t expect

Nothing!

Rating: 10/10 stars